In this photo from Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, at Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson, Governor John Bel Edwards discusses how the COVID-19 vaccine is administered with Dr. Mona Moghareh, a pharmacist at Ochsner. (Photo provided by Ochsner Health)
Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday he will allow an order he signed two years ago declaring a public health emergency in Louisiana for the coronavirus to lapse Wednesday. His comments came during his State of the State address to the Legislature on the opening day of its 2022 regular session.
Edwards said he made the decision not to renew after consulting with state health officials, the Louisiana National Guard and people within his administration to make sure there were would be no ramifications for federal COVID-19 assistance if he chose not to renew the emergency order.
“Just because the proclamation is expiring doesn’t mean COVID is over,” Edwards said. “If the circumstances call for it, I will not hesitate to declare another emergency. But God willing, we will never have to see such difficult mitigation measures in our state again. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that we are in a much better place today than we were two years ago.”
The public health emergency provided the foundation for social distancing and mask requirements during the pandemic. During stretches with COVID-19 case surges, the order also set access and capacity limits for businesses and other venues.
Since March 2020, nearly 17,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Louisiana and more than 1.23 million cases have been recorded , according to Louisiana Department of Health data.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has classified most Louisiana parishes as being at moderate to low risk for community spread of the virus. Only Cameron, East Carroll, West Carroll and Winn parishes are at high risk, and 24 parishes are at substantial risk.
Statewide, 2.4% of COVID-19 tests reported to the health department came back positive from Feb. 24 to March 2.
“This pandemic is certainly not over, and our collective work remains unfinished, but I do believe better days are ahead,” State Health Officer Dr. Joe Kanter said in a statement from the governor’s office. “The COVID-19 vaccines have saved countless lives — and they, therapeutics and a deeper understanding of this virus strengthen us.”
As of this week, 52% of Louisiana residents eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine have received the complete series, and 60.5% have received at least one dose.
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